Monolingual Latino students in the Cleveland area are getting a chance to develop their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skill with a new program that promotes high-tech education for Spanish-speaking students.

According to SF Gate, the Cleveland school district has nearly 1,700 Hispanic high school students, but currently only 130 of them attend schools that specialize in STEM education.

On a national level, Hispanics are vastly underrepresented in STEM careers, with only 14 percent of Hispanics constituting STEM graduates with bachelor's degrees as of 2010, while STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17 percent up to 2018. This problem originates from high school education, with only 17 percent of Hispanics taking Algebra I before high school in a 2009 study. To address these problems, President Obama in 2010 announced a goal of increasing STEM education opportunities and expanding education and career opportunities specifically for underrepresented groups.

Cleveland schools are promoting STEM programs to Spanish-speaking students as part of an agreement with the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education, which has pinpointed the lower number of STEM education options in heavily Latino Cleveland neighborhoods as part of the problem, while saying that it's important that STEM programs "be open to all students." Under the agreement, the Cleveland school district will keep track of how many Hispanic students, and other English Language Learners, are attending STEM programs and make extra efforts to encourage Latinos to join the specialized high-tech programs.

Latino community leaders like Jose Feliciano of the Hispanic Roundtable in Cleveland have reportedly expressed concern with the low numbers of Hispanic students in STEM programs, like the preparatory program in the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. However, says Feliciano, "I never had any sense that they were keeping kids out. They just weren't doing affirmative things to get kids in."